Does where you are change your palette?
I was thinking about this the other night. I went to Smith & Wollensky's three years ago and hated my steak. I went to Outback the other night and loved my steak. I'm pretty sure my steak at S&W was better than Outback, but I expected something more.
Does where you go change your expectations? I try to keep an open mind. The best flautas I've ever had were at an Italian-based restaurant. The salad I've ever had was in an Irish Pub. But these were served with me having no expectations. Would I like the same flautas as much at a Mexican place? The same salad in a fancier place.
Do our expectations change our critiques? Perfect examples for me on CH are people bashing Le Bernardin or Peter Luger. We all know they don't serve a bad meal. Yet, people still bash.
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I totally think that expectations play a role in whether I like a place or not. That said, I try not to have unrealistic expectations of any restaurant. The way I figure it, if I don't go into every meal expecting a life changing event (and believe me, I know some people who do just that) then I'm more apt to enjoy myself.
LOL! I'm amazed and impressed that you ordered flautas at an Italian restaurant. Glad they were great.
I keep low-to-realistic expectations even at spendy places, and very often am pleasantly surprised. Pappadeaux's crawfish bisque is always a decadent pleasure, even though it's probably poured out of a 3-gallon bag. I had some shitty, soggy, flabby Jerusalem artichokes at a spendy steakhouse in Vegas, but just rolled with it.
HAHA! It's a neighborhood place with burgers, meatloaf, fried chicken, but the owner is Italian, so it's specials menu is all Italian for the most part. One night he (yes, he taught his highly Mexican staff how to make everything) made flautas and asked me to try them. They were awesome. I actually recently had flautas at a Mexican place and they were below average, but I actually expected them to be very good, because I was there.
I don't think it changes your palette. But it does change your expectations.
If I'm eating a 45 day aged steak at somewhere expensive, I have an expecation that it will be superb. And I will be critical if it isn't. On the other hand, if I'm eating at my local chain steakhouse, I don't expect the same flavour but I do expect it to be properly cooked.